I like to think I’m a good judge of character and Matthew Sanborn Smith is one of the oddest characters I know. But in a good way. When he’s not making me laugh my proverbial @$$ off in his Beware the Hairy Mango podcast, well, he’s sleeping I guess. How would I know? I don’t stalk the guy. But if I did stalk someone, it’d be Matt, because I love to laugh and his humorous (usually absurdist) fiction always puts a smile on my misshapen head.

Matt has a new eBook collection out. It’s titled The Dritty Doesen: Some of the Least Reasonable Stories of Matthew Sanborn Smith and you can get it right now for only $2.99. That’s less than a cup of laugh juice, if you know what I mean. (I sure don’t.)

Here’s the book description — and look after that for a larger version of the bee-yoo-ti-ful cover for the Hugo Award-winning artist Galen Dara!
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Princess Leia Walking in NYC

This video made me laugh…and it offers the dual benefit of raising awareness of harassment. (It’s sponsored by ihollaback.org, a non-profit and movement to end street harassment.)
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Here is the table of contents for the anthology Horror 101: The Way Forward edited by Joe Mynhardt and Emma Audsley.

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SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-11-12

Interviews & Profiles

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TV REVIEW: Under the Dome Season 2

Stephen King’s Under the Dome‘s first incarnation was a novel published in 2009 (which I reviewed here). It was adapted for a TV series in 2013 (first season reviewed here), and was renewed for a second season in 2014.

If I disliked season 1 so much, why would I even bother with season 2? For one, I did generally enjoy the book despite its faults and since the show starts at basically the same place but diverges drastically from there it’s interesting to see a kind of alternate universe version of the same concept. And, truth be told, I don’t hate having a show I can watch with half my attention while I’m writing reviews.

One of the major complaints I had about season 1 is that it’s very episodic–a new character would be added and killed in the same episode and played as though I’m actually supposed to care about this person. A fight club would be started and then disbanded and never spoken of again. This seemed to occur somewhat less in season 2, though it did still have some components that only happen in a single episode and then everyone avoids talking about.

A new twist in the series is that there were a series of strange events that mimicked the Biblical plagues. They seemed to be aiming for a significant theme on that early in season 2, but it petered out by mid-season. As with the episodic plots, it seems like there are either multiple writing teams working piecemeal without much interaction to aim at a cohesive whole, or a single writing team with the attention span of a toddler.
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REVIEW SUMMARY: A masterful narrative about alien contact, physics, virtual reality, and Chinese culture and history.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: When a Chinese astrophysicist succeeds in contacting aliens in Alpha Centauri, the resulting impact on human society reveals just how fractured our planet truly is.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Fascinating word-paintings of abstract physics problems; thoughtful consideration of potential human-alien contact; deft toggling between time-periods.
CONS: We have to wait until July to get our hands on the next book in the trilogy.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a superb translation of a brilliant work of Chinese science fiction, where physics, philosophy, and history combine to push us to reconsider our place in the universe.

Over the past few months, I’ve been paying more attention to the state of fiction in English translation and have discovered many great publishers and translators. And while the number of contemporary novels translated into English could always be higher, I think we’re headed in the right direction. In terms of international science fiction, writers and translators like Lavie Tidhar and Ken Liu have introduced us to many voices we English-language readers might never have read.
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6’7” tall Jay Kristoff grew up in the second most isolated capital city on earth and is a tragic nerd. The first installment of his Lotus War trilogy, STORMDANCER, was critically acclaimed and shortlisted for several SF/F awards, and the Lotus War novella THE LAST STORMDANCER won the 2014 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Short Fiction. The third book, ENDSINGER, is out in November 2014.

Jay kindly answered some questions about the Lotus War trilogy.


Paul Weimer: Congratulations on finishing the third volume of the Lotus War! How does the end of the novel and series differ from your original conceptions, when you started writing Stormdancer?

Jay Kristoff: Thanks so much!

Well, I originally wrote Stormdancer as a one-shot novel—I didn’t have an agent or book deal at the time, and I figured planning a trilogy would be a little presumptuous of me. Yukiko actually died in the end of the original Stormdancer, but then I landed an agent and he was like “This whole brutally murdering your protagonist thing…how wedded to that idea are you?”

I tend to be something of a pantser when it comes to writing. I don’t plan too far in advance, and prefer to let the story find me. So I really had noooo idea where the series would go or how it would end, especially back in 2012. But I did go into writing the third book knowing the body count would be high. Last book in the series. All bets are off. No one = safe. And that conception turns out to be pretty spot-on.

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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Erin Lindsey! – Sarah Chorn

Erin Lindsey is on a quest to write the perfect summer vacation novel, with just the right blend of action, heartbreak, and triumph. The Bloodbound is her first effort. She lives and works in Bujumbura, Burundi, with her husband and a pair of half-domesticated cats.


Why Disabilities are Hard to Write

by Erin Lindsey

Disabilities make people uncomfortable.

Did you cringe just a little bit reading that sentence? I certainly cringed writing it. It’s not even true, strictly speaking. A more accurate version would be: Some disabilities make some people uncomfortable sometimes. But I’m making a point here, so indulge me.

It’s a very common, very human reaction to be just a little a bit on your heels in the presence of a disability. There are a lot of reasons for this, some understandable, others less so. For many, it’s the struggle to respond correctly, without any idea what that really means. Should you talk about it? Not talk about it? Ignore it entirely? What kind of reaction, if any, would be welcomed by the person with the disability? It’s nearly impossible to guess, and that can cause anxiety. In a certain way, I think the people who want most to respond correctly are the ones who work themselves into the tightest knots, because they’re so worried about inadvertently giving offense.

Why am I banging on about this? Because I think it goes a long way toward explaining why we don’t see more of disabilities in fiction, and especially in speculative fiction.

Writers like me are, quite simply, chicken.
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The Wrap is reporting that HBO and Warner Bros. TV will adapt Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation trilogy (consisting of Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation) as a television series, to be written by Interstellar screenwriter Jonathan Nolan. (Nolan is already adapting Michael Crichton’s Westworld.)

The Foundation series is ostensibly about the rise and fall of a Galactic Empire. Its central figure is Hari Seldon, a mathematician who developed “psychohistory” as a way of predicting the future of very large groups of people. Seldon established a Foundation to minimize the inevitable Dark Ages from thirty thousand years down to a mere millenium. (Hence the name of the first novella that comprised the fix-up Foundation novel, “The Thousand Year Plan.”) The entire foundation universe is comprised of a few more novels, and eventually Asimov tied them together with his also-popular Robot novels. (I talked about the entire series last year at Kirkus review in a three part article.)

Hopefully, this adaptation of Foundation will finally be moving forward. (See what I did there?) It’s been talked about before

[via io9]

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Courtesy of the publisher, we have 2 copies of the non-fiction book The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter by Katherine Freese to give away to 2 lucky SF Signal readers!

Here’s more about what the book is about (You can read an excerpt here):

The ordinary atoms that make up the known universe—from our bodies and the air we breathe to the planets and stars—constitute only 5 percent of all matter and energy in the cosmos. The rest is known as dark matter and dark energy, because their precise identities are unknown. The Cosmic Cocktail is the inside story of the epic quest to solve one of the most compelling enigmas of modern science—what is the universe made of?—told by one of today’s foremost pioneers in the study of dark matter.

Blending cutting-edge science with her own behind-the-scenes insights as a leading researcher in the field, acclaimed theoretical physicist Katherine Freese recounts the hunt for dark matter, from the discoveries of visionary scientists like Fritz Zwicky—the Swiss astronomer who coined the term “dark matter” in 1933—to the deluge of data today from underground laboratories, satellites in space, and the Large Hadron Collider. Theorists contend that dark matter consists of fundamental particles known as WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles. Billions of them pass through our bodies every second without us even realizing it, yet their gravitational pull is capable of whirling stars and gas at breakneck speeds around the centers of galaxies, and bending light from distant bright objects. Freese describes the larger-than-life characters and clashing personalities behind the race to identify these elusive particles.

Many cosmologists believe we are on the verge of solving the mystery. The Cosmic Cocktail provides the foundation needed to fully fathom this epochal moment in humankind’s quest to understand the universe.

And here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:
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Today is Veterans Day in the US, and to celebrate, Apex Books is offering 40% off the Military Science Fiction anthology War Stories.

To take advantage of this deal, purchase the book through Apex and use the code VETERANSDAY at checkout.

War is everywhere. Not only among the firefights, in the sweat dripping from heavy armor and the clenching grip on your weapon, but also wedging itself deep into families, infiltrating our love letters, hovering in the air above our heads. It’s in our dreams and our text messages. At times it roars with adrenaline. While at others it slips in silently so it can sit beside you until you forget it’s there.

Join Joe Haldeman, Linda Nagata, Karin Lowachee, Ken Liu, Jay Posey, and more as they take you on a tour of the battlefields. From those hurtling through space in spaceships and winding along trails deep in the jungle with bullets whizzing overhead, to the ones hiding behind calm smiles, waiting patiently to reveal itself in those quiet moments when we feel safest. War Stories brings us 23 stories of the impacts of war, showcasing the systems, combat, armor, and aftermath without condemnation or glorification.

Instead, War Stories reveals the truth.

War is what we are.

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Got a hot Free Fiction Tip? Tell me here

Want these delicious links emailed to you once a week? Sign up for the Free SF/F/H Fiction Newsletter

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Subterranean Press has opened up the pre-order page and revealed the excellent Julie Dillon cover for Mira Grant’s Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant, coming in April 2015.

Here’s the synopsis:
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SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-11-11

Interviews & Profiles

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REVIEW SUMMARY: Whether you are a Harrison fanatic, a reader of one of his series or just someone who likes history, Harrison’s memoir provides not only insight into his own life, but context of the world that influenced him.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Harry Harrison grows up in the depression, gets drafted for World War II, forms a dislike of the military, learns Esperanto, relocates from NYC to Mexico,  and in his thirties starts writing Science Fiction. From Italy to England to Denmark and several places in between, Harrison’s memoir follows a man bent on writing, unafraid to move to (at the time) far off places to seek a better life for his family. Subtitled “It seemed like a good idea at the time”, the memoir includes several excellent essays in Part II that could not be integrated into the memoir before the writer’s passing.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: History and environment puts writing in context, and Harrison’s memoir provides great context; the essays in Part II are worthy of publication on their own.
CONS: Part I becomes a bit incoherent at the end.
BOTTOM LINE: Though incomplete, this book details the unique life story of one of science fiction’s grand masters, told partially as memoir and partially through targeted essays.

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Jennifer Marie Brissett is a Jamaican-British American who came to the U.S. when she was four and grew up in Cambridge, MA. For three and a half years, she owned and operated the Brooklyn indie bookstore, Indigo Café & Books. She has a Masters’ from the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing and has published stories in The Future Fire, Morpheus Tales, Warrior Wisewoman 2, and Halfway Down the Stairs. Her work has been short-listed for the 2013 storySouth Million Writers Award. Elysium, her debut novel, will be published by Aqueduct Press in December 2014. She currently lives in NYC. Her website can be found at www.jennbrissett.com.

The Inspiration for the novel ELYSIUM

by Jennifer Marie Brissett

As I worked on the first few chapters of Elysium—not knowing exactly where I was going except that I had a seed idea of gender swapping—my grad school mentor suggested that I consider using a theme. I thought about that for a little bit and then it came to me, I mean the whole book came to me, not word for word or even chapter for chapter, but the story and even the structure of the book all flowed from the theme that appeared in my mind: the story of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and his lover Antinous.
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In episode 267 of the SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester is LIVE from MileHiCon 46 in the Denver Tech Center talking about Doctor Who with Jason Batt, Karen Bjorn, Eytan Kollin and Ian Brazee Cannon.

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WINNERS: 2014 World Fantasy Awards

The winners of the 2014 World Fantasy Awards have been announced!

  • LIFE ACHIEVEMENT WINNERS
    • Ellen Datlow
    • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
  • NOVEL: Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria (Small Beer Press)
  • NOVELLA: Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages “Wakulla Springs” (Tor.com, 10/13)
  • SHORT STORY: Caitlín R. Kiernan, “The Prayer of Ninety Cats” (Subterranean magazine, Spring 2013)
  • ANTHOLOGY: George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, eds. Dangerous Women (Tor Books/Voyager UK)
  • COLLECTION: Caitlín R. Kiernan, The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories (Subterranean Press)
  • ARTIST: Charles Vess
  • SPECIAL AWARD—PROFESSIONAL:
    • Irene Gallo, for art direction of Tor.com
    • William K. Schafer, for Subterranean Press
  • SPECIAL AWARD—NON-PROFESSIONAL: Kate Baker, Neil Clarke & Sean Wallace, for Clarkesworld

Congratulations to the winners!

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Ready for some new trailers? I knew you were!
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Table of Contents: Interzone #255

Here are the contents for the new issue of Interzone, featuring cover art by Wayne Haag:
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